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Caution over infrastructure cuts

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Engineers have urged Government to “act with caution” when making spending cuts in areas such as flood risk management, that could impact on the resilience of the UK and its infrastructure networks.

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In its submission to HMT ahead of the July Budget, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) warned that proposed public spending cuts threaten many of the Government departments responsible for the de- livery and maintenance of infrastruc- ture – at a time when Government should be reaffirming its commit- ment to infrastructure sitting at the heart of its economic plans.
It raised particular concern around the axe falling on the 6 year £2.3bn investment plan for new flood de- fences, which is unprotected. Flood schemes are also vulnerable from potential cuts to Local Author- ity budgets. Government only part funds flood schemes – Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA’s) must gen- erate the additional investment and
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where the partnership funding lever- aged is insufficient, Local Authorities have to plug the gap from their al- ready stretched budgets.
ICE called on Government to use the Budget to demonstrate its commitment to building the UK’s resilience – locking in the £2.3bn investment for new flood defences, matching it with a 6 year investment programme for maintaining existing flood defences, and avoiding further cuts to Local Authority budgets.
It also urged Government to work more closely with LLFA’s to target flood spend where it is needed most.
ICE Director General, Nick Bavey- stock, said: “We are at a critical time – the dust has now settled and Government knows it must restore momentum, building on the solid foundations laid since 2010 and demonstrating its commitment to infrastructure as a catalyst for rebal- anced growth, productivity and im- proved resilience.

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